There’s a problem with Pizza Social. (In case you don’t know, Pizza Social is the social mediasphere where self-appointed experts dogpile on to tell you that you’re doing it wrong with your pizza.)
Example: You post a photo and say, “This is my first pizza! It’s not round. But it tastes great. Yay, me!” Reply: “It’s not round!" "That cornicione is too big!" "What’s your percentage?" "Your dough hydration is too low! You need to be at least 65% hydration! More water!”
You’re a beginning pizza maker. You have no idea what this means. You’re just happy you made something that tasted great. Step one: solved!
But the self-appointed expert is providing a critique you didn’t ask for. And the hydration info is irrelevant without context. Dough hydration percentages are used to express the percentage of water in a dough relative to flour weight.
Do you care? No! All you want to do is get a good pizza on a plate and feel like a hero! And you can do it without delving into the more arcane facets of pizza science.
And just by the way, this is also why you don’t need a pizza oven. As I’ve said before, I’m not anti-pizza oven. I’m anti-complication. And until you understand making pizza, all a pizza oven does is complicate things.
If you care, here’s why dough hydration without context is nonsense. If you’re making a Neapolitan-style pizza, it’s a wet dough baked at a very high temperature for a short time.
Are you making a New York-style pizza? It’s a less wet dough that’s baked at a lower temperature for a longer time.
Are you making a Detroit-style pan pizza? It’s a wetter dough than Neapolitan baked at an even lower temperature and for a much longer time than New York. (Sound like the makings of a gang fight?)
Blindly telling me what my hydration should be is foolish. You need to know what I’m trying to accomplish or it’s pointless.
And this is one of the reasons I encourage newbies to avoid Pizza Social. At the very least, go in with your eyes open and your mouth closed. There’s a lot of freewheeling nonsense in there that's dished out like the filling in a Chicago-style stuffed pizza. I’m lucky in that I happened to stumble into a really good, supportive group. But there are many others out there where it feels like the active members all have their knives out.
I’ve actually considered starting a Facebook group just for Free The Pizza newbies. It would be a place where smart beginners can talk pizza like normal human beings. It could be done without the swagger and bullsh*t of so many pizza groups.
Pizza is love. Nobody should have to subject their love to the pizza trolls.
If you’d be interested in such a group, let me know. If there’s enough interest, I will make it so. Just send a message through the contact form.
And if you’re still on the fence about freeing your pizza? The book continues getting great reviews. By now, I should’ve had at least one crappy review from a naysayer. Soon, I hope. Then, it looks like someone besides my friends and family members are out there writing all the reviews. www.FreeThePizzaBook.com
Free the pizza!
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the bestselling, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, pro-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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